A Mutter’s Day Tail

My husband and I have lived with dogs for 27 years together and both of us had dogs as kids. But all that did not prepare us for the adoption process with Livvie, our newly rescued pup. And I feel like a new mom in very foreign territory.

I have only lived with rescue dogs, but none of them remotely like Olivia. I had been thinking that autumn would be a good time to welcome a new critter into our home after our menagerie had dwindled to zero in March. But my husband sent a link to a site with an adorable dog for adoption. It turned out that she was spoken for by the next day, but I was already in search mode and my heart went out to Olivia’s sweet furry yellow face with the deep brown eyes and little whiskers that characterize some type of Terrier background.

So commenced the process of application, references, plus veterinary reference, and a home check. At first we were a bit indignant, ignorant as we were about the new standard screening through the Adopt-a-Pet website. It all checked out and two weeks later I brought shy Livvie into our home. We expected shy, but we were not prepared for the level of patience that will clearly be required for her to become comfortable with us, and trust that after the many transitions that started in Louisiana, that she can stay here without having to compete for food or attention.

Where Charlie, our last rescue from Puerto Rico marked every room and pinged off the walls at first, Livvie has barely ventured out of her crate-even to eat. She started to eat and drink after a day, if it was brought directly to her, but will not seek it out. She quakes when we go outside and freezes, never mind considering this a good place to play or pee.

It’s early days, less than a week, and people remind us to give her a couple of weeks to really see who she is.

I am remembering the importance of patience and this being her schedule and timeframe, not my wish for how it should be. She will need enough structure without there being too much, and consistent loving through it all. We will learn from having her in our family as she will learn from being here. As with children, we set the tone, and she will take her cues from us. Her past four and half months will affect how readily she can move past the multiple transitions and mistrust that this is just another stop along the way, or worse, that we could visit some kind of harm on her. We must pay attention to what the new baby is telling us, as we make clear what she can expect from us, and how predictable we are. We could not have anticipated our pup would be this kind of baby, but here she is, and it is certainly not her fault that we didn’t know who she would be. No parent can know what a child will be like.

We will all adjust together, taking one step at a time, appreciating each small progression, knowing that there is no hurrying it, and no need to rush.

This Mother’s Day, feeling so connected with my own two daughters who are exploring other parts of the world, I will hold our furry new pooch on my lap, and welcome another journey that is ours to navigate, with all its unknowns, hopes, unpredictability and time to evolve. I am ready.

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.